Administration Commissioner Jay Dardenne began the meeting by discussing the Governor’s proposal for teacher and school employee pay increases ($400 for teachers and $200 for school employees – an increase spread out across the entire next school year). Last week, when the Governor first announced his proposal, the Federation called it “meager” and “inadequate.”
LFT Legislative and Political Director Cynthia Posey provided context to the task force about surrounding states that are already planning to offer teachers and school employees a more substantial increase. In Texas, teachers with more than 5 years of experience can look forward to a $5,200 increase; $3,800 for those with less than 5 years of experience. In Arkansas, the legislature is discussing a $2,000 increase over two years and in Mississippi legislators are working to pass a $1,000 increase. Thus, she highlighted how the Commissioner’s plan would push Louisiana even further behind the Southern Regional Average.
“I would like to note that Louisiana educators, paraprofessionals, school bus drivers, janitors, they have all been at work. We’ve heard nationwide about educators walking out, but Louisiana educators have been there. They’ve done their job. According to Dr. Brumley, ‘44% of teachers quit in their first five years to 2016-2019.’ If you talk to our colleges of education, they’ll tell you young people going into education is almost zero. So, there are many things that we could do, that we talked about doing. We need to reevaluate how we fund education, but we can’t do that right now. What we can do is give our teachers and our school employees a pay raise and I think that’s the fair thing to do,” said Posey.
While LFT supported a proposal that would have increased the task force’s recommendation on pay raises, ultimately the MFP task force decided to recommend an $80 million increase to the MFP: double the proposal presented by the Governor’s team, but still only a meager amount dedicated to employee raises. LFT was one of only two members of the task force to oppose the proposal. In the recommendation passed today, half would go in level one of the funding formula, which is allocated to school districts to use on educational expenses at their discretion. The other half would be designated specifically for teacher and school employee raises; resulting in an increase of $400 for teachers and $200 for school employees for the 2021-2022 school year.
“We had hoped that the MFP Task Force would recommend a larger pay raise for teachers and school employees,” said LFT President Larry Carter after the meeting. “But now that this is on the table, we will do everything we can to ensure that the MFP is passed in the legislature so that our schools and school employees aren’t forgotten.”